In light of the state of emergency declared in Ohio by Governor Mike DeWine on March 10, 2020, Ohio EPA closed its central and district offices and most staff are working remotely as of March 23, 2020. The agency has also established a website with more information for regulated entities, and a procedure for regulated entities that experience an “unavoidable noncompliance situation, directly due to impact from the coronavirus” to immediately get in touch with staff and request regulatory flexibility.
Regulated entities can make this request by sending an email to EPA at COVID-19REGFLEX@epa.ohio.gov with specific information regarding the enforcement discretion request. The email should contain a reference to a specific requirement that cannot be met, the circumstances preventing compliance, anticipated duration that noncompliance will persist, any steps the regulated entity is taking to mitigate the impact of the noncompliance and contact information for the appropriate contact person.
Ohio EPA has committed to monitor the inbox daily, to “work diligently and expeditiously” to respond to such requests and will “consider providing regulatory flexibility, where possible, to assist entities in alternative approaches to maintaining compliance, such as extending reporting deadlines, consideration of waiving late fees and exercising enforcement discretion.” Even where Ohio EPA authorizes such alternative approaches, however, regulated entities are expected to maintain records documenting related activities and the entity’s best efforts to comply.
For questions or guidance on Ohio EPA’s COVID-19 response and regulatory flexibility request process, please contact a member of Taft’s Environmental team for assistance.
Please visit our COVID-19 Toolkit for all of Taft’s updates on the coronavirus.